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America's Debate > Archive > Assorted Issues Archive > [A] Science and Technology > [A] Environmental Debate
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Cyan
The title speaks for itself.

What is the Libertarian philosophy for preserving the environment? How do you intend to control pollution in moving elements such as water and air? How would you control environmental problems that transcend national borders?
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Dingo
QUOTE(cyan @ Mar 23 2003, 02:43 PM)
The title speaks for itself.

What is the Libertarian philosophy for preserving the environment? How do you intend to control pollution in moving elements such as water and air? How would you control environmental problems that transcend national borders?

Good question,

The only answer I can think of is sue everybody in the vicinity. They don't do the environment from what I've seen. My general experience with libertarian programs, beyond a set of platitudes, is they want to legalize drug use, legalize prostitution, let everybody have guns, open the borders if they are really radical, get rid of welfare and end taxation. Their focus seems to get kind of hazy after that.
Cyan
Dingo, those are all concepts for another thread. Let's keep this one strictly to the Libertarian concept of the preservation of the environment. smile.gif
Eva
I'll openly admit that I don't know much about the Libertarian party. A friend and I were considering various political parties and she made a statement about the Libertarian party that I found very strange.

She said that Libertarians embraced personal freedom and free enterprise without restrictions. She believed that the Libertarian party didn't embrace environmental issues because of the strong stand of free enterprise without restrictions.

I'd love to gain an accurate understanding of the Libertarian party and environmental issues. I hope this is the appropriate thread to ask for clarification.
Izdaari
Clarification please: Are you asking for the official position of the Libertarian Party, or just for libertarian thinking on that issue in general? That's an important distinction, as most who are ideologically libertarian are NOT members of the Libertarian Party.

Here's the LP position paper on the Environment, which I daresay most non-LP libertarians would agree with as well.
Ultimatejoe
I don't agree with it at all. Since when does:

The government doesn't control pollution well = the government causes pollution?
Cyan
QUOTE(Izdaari @ Mar 23 2003, 09:10 PM)
Clarification please: Are you asking for the official position of the Libertarian Party, or just for libertarian thinking on that issue in general? That's an important distinction, as most who are ideologically libertarian are NOT members of the Libertarian Party.

My question is directed at the libertarian party members, but please feel free to make the ideological distinction as it relates to the environment and provide your own opinions. smile.gif

Edited to add: Yes, Eva this would be an appropriate thread to ask for clarification. That's why I started it. I would like for the libertarians to post their ideas, and I would like the non-libertarians to be able to ask questions.
Dingo
Wow, after Mary Ruwart's article you want to take all the state and national parks and turn them over to ranchers and developers. Government pollution is a serious problem but not all the best uses of land can be achieved by demanding they generate a bottom line profit.

Still if you can join ecological concerns with pay-your-own-way economics that is certainly something I would support. How about paying the REAL cost at the gas pump. I wonder what libertarians think about that?
Victoria Silverwolf
As a person with small-l libertarian leanings (and small-a anarchist leanings, and small-l liberal leanings, etc.) I can see environmental protection as a form of property right protection, as least in some situations. If you pollute the air, you effect my share of the air, my body, and so on. It seems to me that libertarian thinkers would want to protect the environment when environmental damage effects other people who are not responsible for the damage. Given this belief, it would be possible to be a very strongly environmentalist libertarian. (You can't pollute unless you polllute only that part of the environment which is your property, and do not effect the parts of the environment which are the property of others or which are shared property.)
Eva
Cyan --

Is it true that the Libertarian party is weak on environmental issues because of it's strong position on unrestricted free enterprise?
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Cyan
QUOTE(Eva @ Mar 26 2003, 12:47 PM)
Cyan --

Is it true that the Libertarian party is weak on environmental issues because of it's strong position on unrestricted free enterprise?

I don't know. I'm not a libertarian. wink2.gif That's what I'm trying to find out with this thread. Hopefully, we can get a few more libertarians in here to answer that question. smile.gif
Izdaari
QUOTE(Dingo @ Mar 23 2003, 09:46 PM)
Wow, after Mary Ruwart's article you want to take all the state and national parks and turn them over to ranchers and developers. Government pollution is a serious problem but not all the best uses of land can be achieved by demanding they generate a bottom line profit.

Still if you can join ecological concerns with pay-your-own-way economics that is certainly something I would support. How about paying the REAL cost at the gas pump. I wonder what libertarians think about that?

I don't see where you get that from Ruwart's article. She isn't proposing selling the parks to ranchers or developers but to organizations like the Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy. What's wrong with that?

As for paying the real cost at the gas pumps, that depends on how you define it. If you're going to toss in every conceivable externality related to motor vehicle use and charge taxes for them, I'm appalled at the thought. If you just mean "no corporate welfare for oil companies" then I'm all for it.

QUOTE(Eva @ Mar 26 2003, 11:47 AM)
Is it true that the Libertarian party is weak on environmental issues because of it's strong position on unrestricted free enterprise?


Nope, not true at all. The LP is very strongly for protecting the environment, but prefers to do it when possible by such means as Victoria talks about below. When it isn't possible to do it effectively that way, they'll accept regulation, though of course not with a glad heart.

QUOTE(Victoria Silverwolf @ Mar 26 2003, 04:17 AM)
As a person with small-l libertarian leanings (and small-a anarchist leanings, and small-l liberal leanings, etc.) I can see environmental protection as a form of property right protection, as least in some situations. If you pollute the air, you effect my share of the air, my body, and so on. It seems to me that libertarian thinkers would want to protect the environment when environmental damage effects other people who are not responsible for the damage. Given this belief, it would be possible to be a very strongly environmentalist libertarian. (You can't pollute unless you polllute only that part of the environment which is your property, and do not effect the parts of the environment which are the property of others or which are shared property.)


I can find you some links to papers on protecting the environment by libertarian think tanks, but later, don't have time to find them now.

And a side issue, but one that seems to come up on this board a lot: the Libertarian Party is an arm of a much larger ideological movement. Libertarians support it or not, or join it or not, depending on many factors, most of them tactical, not ideological. Non-LP libertarians (and here I'm talking only about those who consciously consider themselves part of the movement) are actually more numerous.
Hugo
Pollution is what is referred to in economics as a third party cost. Libertarians believe two parties should be able to engage in any conduct they see fit as long as no other party is harmed. Pollution is produced by all human activity, as you exhale you are adding CO2 to the environment. Obviously pollution cannot be eliminated. The means to control pollution and the level of control needed is argued among libertarians, just as it is among liberals and conservatives. Libertarians are not pro-business tthey are pro-liberty. A man's liberty should be limited to preventing him from harming others. Libertarians do not allow a man to dump trash in his neighbor's yard.

Libertarians are also very wary of the expansion of government inherent in most environmental programs and look for environmental programs that minimize government distortion of the economy. One method to reduce pollution is user fees. Gasoline taxes used to pay for cleaning up the air and building roads I find acceptable. In this case the parties involved in the additional cost to government pay for that cost. Of course, it is impossible, or prohibitively expensive, to clean up the air of most automobile pollution,as it is to eliminate the CO2 you are exhaling. Sadly, I find no alternative except government regulations to keep pollution below unhealthy levels. I do not believe this feeling contradicts my libertarianism, reducing and , if possible, eliminating third party costs is a legitimate function of government.
Adrian
Well, this is a hazy issue I think for all Libertarians. The solution for most enviromental problems (Which many of are exaggerated) is not through force or government regulation.
I believe if a company is really hurting the envornment severely, the plan of action would be
A) Get people to know about it.
cool.gif Organize a massive boycott.
C) The company will be forced to either shut down or fix it's policy.
Of course, that would only happen if people actually cared, and I do think if there was truly a major threat they would. The government doesn't fix it, neither does force. They actually make it worse, workers make less money and buyers pay more (now that regulation expenses must be met) and the envirornment usually isn't in any "danger" in the first place.
That's just me, and I'm not officially representing the party, of course...
Hugo
QUOTE(Adrian @ Apr 2 2003, 08:53 PM)
Well, this is a hazy issue I think for all Libertarians. The solution for most enviromental problems (Which many of are exaggerated) is not through force or government regulation.
I believe if a company is really hurting the envornment severely, the plan of action would be
A) Get people to know about it.
cool.gif Organize a massive boycott.
C) The company will be forced to either shut down or fix it's policy.
Of course, that would only happen if people actually cared, and I do think if there was truly a major threat they would. The government doesn't fix it, neither does force. They actually make it worse, workers make less money and buyers pay more (now that regulation expenses must be met) and the envirornment usually isn't in any "danger" in the first place.
That's just me, and I'm not officially representing the party, of course...

I agree with Adrian that many so-called environmental crises are nothing to worry about. Leftists use environmentalism to attack capitalism.
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